* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When the Combined Chiefs of Staff assembled at Cairo in the SEXTANT conference of November and December 1943, the question of the strategy to be pursued in the Pacific remained a subject of debate. It had been agreed that unremitting pressure should be exerted upon the Japanese from all sides, subject to the means available in the several theaters, and thus authorization had been given both for the continuance of MacArthur's drive along the coast of New Guinea and for Nimitz' thrust across the Central Pacific.* As the CCS convened, Southwest forces already had seized the Huon Gulf and stood poised for an early invasion of Cape Gloucester and the occupation of Saidor. Admiral Halsey's South Pacific forces were on Bougainville, and in the Central Pacific, Nimitz had advanced to the Gilberts on the way to the Marshalls. The general plan called next for CENPAC to move against the Carolines while SOPAC took Kavieng in coordination with MacArthur's seizure of Hansa Bay in New Guinea and of the Admiralty Islands to complete the isolation of Rabaul by late April. Beyond that date tentative schedules for further operations both as to objectives and timing depended upon some clarification of the over-all strategy.
In preparation for SEXTANT the Joint Staff Planners had in effect recommended the continuation through 1944 of the policy of implementing simultaneous drives from the Southwest and Central Pacific Areas. Following RENO III closely, the JPS foresaw an advance in SWPA to the Vogelkop by early fall and the establishment of air bases in the Halmaheras and on Amboina by the close of 1944. This schedule would bring SWPA forces into the southern Philippines early in 1945.
*See above, pp. 135, 193-95.
Meanwhile, in the Central Pacific, Ponape should be seized on or about 1 May 1944, Truk in July, the Marianas in October, and the Palaus by the close of the year. The proposals called for intensification of operations in CBI, and during JCS discussion General Arnold had added the initiation of VLR bombing of the Japanese homeland from Chinese bases for 1 May 1944 and from the Marianas by the close of that year. He agreed also to a clause calling for VLR bombardment from the SWPA against NEI oil resources, effective on 20 July 1944, but made the reservation that this should be for planning purposes only. Strategic bombardment of the enemy's home islands should have priority in the use of the B-29. At Admiral King's suggestion, the Palaus were deleted from the objectives specified for CENPAC.1
The decisions reached at SEXTANT authorized operations for the capture of the Japanese-mandated islands, these operations to progress concurrently with an advance along the New Guinea-NEI-Philippines axis. The two campaigns were considered as mutually supporting, but it was also felt "that operations in the Central Pacific promise at this time a more rapid advance toward Japan and her vital lines of communication; the earlier acquisition of strategic air bases closer to the Japanese homeland; and, of greatest importance, are more likely to precipitate a decisive engagement with the Japanese fleet." The immediate aim of the two converging offensives was the acquisition of bases which would permit a major assault in the Formosa-China coast-Luzon area ahead of the typhoon season in the spring of 1945. Operations in the North Pacific, South Pacific, China, and southeastern Asia would be conducted in general support of the main Pacific campaigns.2 The schedule of operations indicated for 1944 followed closely that already agreed upon by the U.S. Joint Chiefs.3
Further Debate over Objectives
Of necessity all decisions on the scheduling of operations, and even on the objectives themselves, were tentative. As the Joint Logistics Committee soon pointed out, it was highly doubtful that all of the objectives scheduled for 1944 could be achieved unless it be assumed that a defeat of Germany by 1 July might release the shipping and forces required.4 Moreover, plans for the Central Pacific rested as yet upon very inadequate intelligence as to the enemy's strength, particularly in the Mandates. It was assumed that Truk, near the center of the Carolines, was a strongly fortified fleet base, but exact information was lack-
ing. There remained also problems of coordination among the several commands that would affect the order and timing of all operations.
On 13 January 1944, Admiral Nimitz published for the Central Pacific a basic plan of operations, which received the code name GRANITE. Though intended to serve only as the basis for further discussion and for the build-up of forces, GRANITE proposed the following operations after capture of the Marshalls: HAILSTONE, a carrier raid on Truk, designed both to support SWPA-SOPAC invasions of the Admiralties and Kavieng and to feel out Japanese strength, about 24 March; CATCHPOLE, capture of Eniwetok and Ujelang Atolls in the western Marshalls, 1 May; GYMKHANA-ROADMAKER, capture of Mortlock and Truk in the Carolines, 1 August; FORAGER, capture of the Marianas, 1 November 1944. If it was found that Truk could be by-passed, the plan substituted STALEMATE, capture of the Palaus for 1 August.5 And having laid down this tentative schedule, Nimitz went into conference with representatives of MacArthur and Halsey at Pearl Harbor late in January 1944. SWPA was represented by Sutherland, Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Chamberlin, and Kenney; SOPAC by Rear Adm. Robert B. Carney (Halsey being grounded in the United States); and POA by Nimitz, his staff, and Lt. Gen. Robert C. Richardson, Jr., commander of Army forces in the Central Pacific.6
In opening the conference, Nimitz advanced the proposition that Japan could be defeated only with the aid of bases in China and indicated that his own purpose was to move the fleet as rapidly as possible to bases on the China coast. Although apprehensive about Truk, he expected the carriers to dislodge the Japanese fleet units there and drive them back to waters west of the Philippines. It was his feeling, at the moment, that it would be necessary to reoccupy the Philippines as a preliminary to some landing on the China coast. General Sutherland, speaking for MacArthur, presented again the arguments for RENO and found support from Richardson, who urged that SWPA forces were nearing a point where they could unhinge the Japanese defenses in the Central Pacific without a fight. Richardson believed that, after the completion of the Gilberts and Marshalls engagements, remaining enemy strength in the Carolines and Marianas could be contained by carrier raids while a concentrated drive was executed on the SWPA front. This suggestion that Truk and the Marianas could be by-passed received support from other representatives of CENPAC; indeed,
Nimitz soon thereafter found it necessary to remind his subordinates that the decisions reached at SEXTANT were still binding.7 The general consensus seemed to point to the following strategy for 1944: completion of the Marshalls campaign, including the capture of Eniwetok, together with the Kavieng and Admiralty operations for the isolation of Kabaul, these to be followed by an advance of CENPAC forces to the Palaus, Truk being by-passed, and by concentration on the SWPA drive up the New Guinea coast.8
Having been called on for up-to-date information regarding his plans for the Hansa Bay and Kavieng operations and for advice on the disposition of South Pacific forces and bases after Kavieng, MacArthur on 2 February urged that all SOPAC forces be assigned to SWPA and asked for Halsey as commander of his fleet units. Even with all SWPA-SOPAC resources, the movement into Geelvink Bay and the Vogelkop would not be possible before 1 October 1944, making re-entry into the Philippines impossible before March 1945. Arguing that all B-29's should be employed from SWPA bases and that the Marianas possessed no strategic value, he charged the Washington planners with having set up for 1944 two weak thrusts by divided forces that could serve only to delay by some six months his own return to the Philippines. For the further elaboration of these views, he was sending Sutherland to Washington.9
When Sutherland appeared before the JCS on 8 February, Rear Adm. Forrest P. Sherman, Nimitz' chief planner, was also present. Referring to the recent conference at Pearl Harbor, Sutherland began by indicating that both Nimitz and MacArthur concurred upon the necessity of seizing a naval base on the coast of China. Both agreed that the Philippines would have to be retaken. Sutherland speculated that after HAILSTONE the Japanese fleet would abandon Truk, thus obviating the need for its capture, and sowould leave the way clear for a concentrated attack, mounted with the aid of a fleet base in the Admiralties, along the New Guinea-Mindanao axis. The timetable in RENO III could be accelerated enough to put American forces into Mindanao by 1 December 1944. After the invasion of Mindanao, SWPA forces would move on through the islands to Luzon, and thence to the China coast. Sutherland insisted, even though closely questioned, that Nimitz and MacArthur could operate together without friction and with neither in command of the other. Admiral King pointed out that Nimitz' strategy was aimed directly at Luzon, and Leahy
suggested that a long campaign in the Philippines would delay movement to the China coast. Sherman, in discussing the GRANITE plan, emphasized that it envisaged an attack on Luzon in early 1945. By June 1944 the speed of the SWPA advance along the New Guinea coast would be sufficiently clear to determine whether POA forces should invade the Marianas or the Palaus first. Truk would be by-passed if possible; but if it were to be by-passed, Nimitz would require an augmented Seventh Air Force to bomb it from the northeast and the Thirteenth Air Force to strike it from the south, obviously (although he did not say so) from bases in the Admiralties. Sutherland quickly rejoined that his own arguments were strengthened by Sherman's statement that future movements of Central Pacific forces depended upon the speed of advance along the New Guinea axis.10
After this meeting, King, obviously rankled by MacArthur's message of 2 February, indicated quite tartly in a memo for Marshall that MacArthur should have presented his plans instead of continuing to question the CCS strategy. He considered MacArthur overly optimistic concerning his rate of advance up the New Guinea coast, an area both unhealthful and heavily garrisoned by the Japanese. As for the Marianas, either Truk would have to be taken or else at least a part of the southern Marianas would have to be seized to isolate Truk from the north. This decision, however, must await the exploratory raids. To Marshall, the JCS discussion had indicated that both Nimitz and MacArthur were planning to use SOPAC forces. He observed a general agreement that the strategic objective was the coast of China, and he personally thought that Luzon would have to be the steppingstone in that direction.11
The JSSC studied these conflicting opinions and submitted another report on 16 February. After review of RENO III and GRANITE, the committee was still of the opinion that the major effort in the Pacific should be a thrust across the Central Pacific aimed at the seizure of Formosa. The committee noted the importance attached by SWPA to Mindanao, but it felt that SWPA's route of advance lay in the area of heaviest opposition from Japanese ground troops. The POA scheme of maneuver, on the contrary, proposed fewer and longer moves, took advantage of superior American naval power, promised capture of the Marianas for B-29 bases, effectively cut Japanese lines of communications, and offered the possibility of a decisive fleet engagement at an early date. The committee recommended that the JCS clarify the
SEXTANT decisions to provide first priority for POA attacks. As to specific objectives, the committee recommended the seizure of the Admiralties as planned, capture of either the Marianas or the Carolines according to later estimates of Japapese strength at Truk, capture of the Palaus, and an advance to Formosa, either direct or via Luzon. Mindanao would be seized as an intermediate objective in case a direct attack on Formosa or Luzon proved impracticable. SWPA accordingly, though relegated to a position of secondary importance, should progress along the New Guinea-Mindanao axis.12
This report, written for the most part by Vice Adm. Russell Willson, in Sutherland's opinion presented no more than "a biased argument to support a predetermined decision" and disregarded "the views of both responsible commanders in the Pacific."13 The discussion by now had waxed warm, and General Sutherland is reported to have used even stronger language in informal conversations with OPD representatives.14 By way of rebuttal, Lt. Gen. Stanley D. Embick, Army representative on the JSSC, asserted that operations through the Central Pacific offered the greatest chance of quick success. Admittedly, he was not fully convinced that long jumps such as those from Guam to Formosa or Luzon would be possible, but future developments might make them so; and it would be well to proceed in such a direction, maintaining a high degree of flexibility, and with the JCS, in effect, functioning in the over-all command.15
Marshall was in no hurry to commit himself until he had more information about Truk, but this information was speedily forthcoming. The Pacific Fleet's Farriers, covering landings at Eniwetok, raided Truk on 16-17 February 1944, Jaluit on the 20th, and the Marianas on the 22d. These strikes caused the Japanese fleet to flee Truk and demonstrated that the base was not invulnerable; they also demonstrated once again that Japanese land-based aviation on the Pacific islands was no longer strong enough to prevent effective operations by the greatly superior carrier forces that the United States could now bring against the enemy. King promptly urged the JCS to direct immediate preparations for the capture of the Carolines. He proposed to transfer the First Marine Division, committed to Kavieng, to Nimitz and recommended that the entire Thirteenth Air Force be given to Nimitz for employment against Truk from Admiralties bases. Marshall, with Arnold concurring, was still not ready to accord blanket approval to the JSSC strategy but, instead, pointed out that the committee had
not discussed any allocation of means between POA and SWPA, had not properly considered employment of land-based air, had not indicated any timing of interrelated operations, and had not indicated the degree to which POA operations (especially the long movement from the Marianas or Palaus to Luzon or Formosa) would depend upon SWPA operations.16 Sutherland, still on temporary duty in Washington, found encouragement in this support but there were reasons also for his continued apprehension. He soon received encouraging news from the theater.
The competing strategies of the Central and Southwest Pacific posed a critical question as to the disposal of available forces, among them the Thirteenth Air Force. General MacArthur, receiving frequent reports from Sutherland as to the progress of discussions in Washington, could not fail to recognize that a major advantage enjoyed by the proponents of the Central Pacific strategy was the promise of the time to be saved by a direct thrust into the inner defenses of the Japanese empire. The risk, from the point of view of Brisbane, was that this promise might tip the scale against the proposals of SWPA in such a way as to enforce a slowing down of its own schedule, with further disadvantage to the theater's claim on additional resources. MacArthur was thus in a receptive frame of mind when on 23 February, he received proposals from Kenney for an earlier move into the Admiralties that might speed up the whole schedule of planned operations along New Guinea.
The Admiralties had been scheduled at SEXTANT for occupation on or about 20 April, following by a month the seizure of Kavieng and, in turn, to be followed by a landing at Hollandia in Netherlands New Guinea on 1 June. Named in honor of the British Admiralty, settled by the Germans in 1884, occupied by the Australians in 1914, and mandated to Australia in 1921, the Admiralty Islands had been held by the Japanese since January 1942. During 1943 the enemy had improved Lorengau airfield on Manus, largest of the islands, and had developed for staging purposes en route to the Bismarcks and New Guinea another field at Momote on Los Negros. Defensive preparations had been stepped up in January 1944 under direction of the Eighth Area Army's headquarters at Rabaul.17
Manus is separated from Los Negros, next of the islands in size, by no more than a narrow, creeklike strait. Los Negros, with its horseshoe
curve from the eastward end of Manus, incloses the natural Seeadler Harbor, which finds further protection in a string of small islands running parallel to the northern shore of Manus. The harbor itself, approximately six miles wide and some twenty in length, affords anchorage for large vessels and had been considered as an alternative to Rabaul for use by the American fleet. Warning Instruction 3, issued by GHQ SWPA on 23 November 1943 in connection with plans for the reduction of the Bismarck Archipelago, had directed ALAMO Force to prepare for seizure of Seeadler Harbor and the establishment of "an airdrome and light naval facilities for the support of subsequent operations along the north coast of New Guinea."18 A conference with Admiral Halsey and his staff early in January set a new target date, bracketed with that for Kavieng, at 1 April.19
Elaborate plans for air support to be supplied chiefly from Nadzab and Dobodura proved in the event unnecessary. The carrier attacks of 17 and 18 February on Truk, continuing SOPAC attacks on Rabaul, and Fifth Air Force missions against Kavieng quieted enemy air in those areas, while, for some reason, the Japanese did not throw in their New Guinea-based planes. The continuing attacks on the Wewak group of airdromes was of no small help in keeping the Japanese pinned down. A coordinated attack on 3 February by fifty-eight B-24's, forty B-25's, and escorting P-40's, P-38's, and P-47's had destroyed an estimated eighty planes in aerial combat and on the ground. A new crisscross technique was worked out in which the heavy bombers would render all but one of the Wewak runways unserviceable, forcing the enemy planes to land for refueling on the serviceable runway only to have a low-level strafing attack hit them as they were refueling. This technique was used to knock out all the Wewak fields, and the attacks there were followed by low-level attacks on the Tadji strip at Aitape. Between occasional heavy and medium attacks during February and March, fighter sweeps over Wewak kept the Japanese air strength cut down. Two of the Fifth Air Force's leading fighter aces, Col. Neel E. Kearby with twenty-two kills and Lt. Col. Thomas J. Lynch with twenty, were lost on 4 March and 8 March, respectively, over the Wewak area. This was a sore loss, not only of excellent fighter pilots but also because both men were developing into outstanding unit commanders.20
While the BREWER Task Force, its combat elements representing chiefly the 1st Cavalry Division under Maj. Gen. Innis P. Swift,
prepared for the landing, the Fifth Air Force undertook to complete a much-needed photographic coverage of the islands. Efforts of the 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron were blocked by weather in early January, but on 22 January two F-5's (photo P-38's) photographed Lorengau and Momote, where they found a good deal of activity. On that same day eleven of the 345th Group's B-25's, escorted by P-38's, bombed and strafed shipping in the harbor to open the pre-invasion air attacks.21 The 345th put thirty-eight more Mitchells over the Admiralties two days later in a low-level bombing and strafing mission which resulted in claims that eight or nine fighters--incidentally, the last enemy planes reported on Admiralty airfields--had been destroyed or damaged at Momote in addition to other destruction done to shipping and an ammunition dump. The 38th Group joined the 345th on 25 January to send out sixty-four planes. Two of the Mitchells were lost to more accurate antiaircraft fire than had met the previous missions, and a third plane had to make a water landing south of Manus.22
Forty-one Liberators from seven squadrons of the 90th and 43d Groups hit Momote airfield and its dumps with 500- and 1,000-pounders on 26 January. Forty-two B-24's followed up on Lorengau airfield and the town on 27 January. Both airfields were left temporarily unserviceable. Reconnaissance on 29 January revealed the airdromes to be still unserviceable with no effort being made to repair them. Bad weather turned back another heavy mission sent out on 1 February. Again on 6 February, the weather diverted the 90th Group's B-24's to Madang; but twenty-four planes of the 43d Group, accompanied by twenty-four P-38's, flew through the front to find good weather over Los Negros. There was neither aerial opposition nor antiaircraft fire on this or subsequent missions. This caused much speculation at the time. A document captured after the landing revealed that Col. Yoshio Ezaki, local commander, had prohibited all firing at Allied planes and had allowed no movement in the open until after 1700. His intention apparently was to give the impression that the Admiralty defense forces had evacuated. To some extent he succeeded.23
Weather and other operations kept Allied planes away from the Admiralties until 13 February, when the two medium groups were sent over Momote at medium altitude. This type of mission being unusual for the low-level specialists of the 38th and 345th Groups, they were especially pleased with the accuracy of their bombing, the 38th
Group reporting 95 per cent hits in the target area. On 14 February, both groups flew a repeat mission over Momote. Weather again helped the Japanese on 22 February, when both heavies and mediums were diverted--the Liberators to Madang, and the Mitchells to Rein Bay in New Britain. Only three B-24's, out of a total of twenty-four heavies and twenty-seven mediums dispatched, reached the Admiralties on 24 February; on 25 February, nine Mitchells of the 405th Squadron reached the target. Since 22 January, 112 Liberator sorties and 288 B-25 sorties had dropped 650 tons of bombs on the Admiralties, mostly on Momote airfield and its installations. Bivouac areas and dumps at Lorengau as well as small shipping in the harbors had also been hit.24
An initial conference on 19 February among representatives of the ALAMO Force, the BREWER Task Force, ADVON Fifth Air Force, and the Seventh Amphibious Force to settle questions of coordination among air, ground, and naval units adjourned to meet again on 25 February. But by that time the agenda had been drastically revised. Since 6 February, mission reports for operations over the Admiralties had shown no Japanese reaction, and on 23 February three B-25's of the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, sent out for a further check, cruised over Manus and Los Negros for ninety minutes at minimum altitude without having a shot fired at them or seeing any signs of activity either on the airdromes or along the beaches. General Whitehead, who had previously suggested to Kenney that a target date of 15 February for the Admiralties and Kavieng would give him more time against Wewak and Hollandia in preparation for the Hansa Bay landing scheduled for 1 April,25 immediately forwarded a special report of this reconnaissance mission to his chief at Brisbane.26
General Kenney then suggested and "sold" the idea of an immediate reconnaissance in force of the Momote airdrome area instead of the planned seizure of Seeadler Harbor. The conferees meeting at ALAMO Force headquarters on 25 February worked out a plan which MacArthur approved on 26 February.27
Kenney had written Whitehead on the 24th:
The plan is that about the 28th or 29th February six destroyers, accompanied by three APD's and carrying the equivalent of a battalion of 1st Cavalry with a battery of mountain artillery and a battery of fifty caliber ackack machine guns, will make a reconnaissance in force of the Momote airdrome area. The destroyers will open fire on possible shore installations and if they draw no return fire will land troops to take over the Momote area. Two minesweepers will leave Finschhafen the afternoon before, timing their arrival at Hyane Harbour with
Eastern Manus & Los Negros Island
that of the raiding force. As soon as they have swept the harbour entrance clear, the destroyers are to steam in and discharge their cargoes and probably remain there the day.
You will have to provide a flight of fighters over the minesweepers during the afternoon preceding the landing at Manus [Los Negros], and I have told the Navy that the landing should not be made before 8:15 in order that we have a chance to deluge any possible opposition around Momote and Hyane Harbour by attacks with the heavies and straffers. I do not believe there is much possibility of any Jap air opposition to the show but you had better use P-38's to afford fighter cover for the landing operation and during at least the morning the raid takes place. To further insure the safety of the landing, I would clean out any gun positions that may be located in the Momote area, and in addition comb over the four Wewak dromes with straffers the afternoon before and the morning of the landing operations on Manus [Los Negros].
With their regular equipment the troops will carry some shovels to fill up enough holes on Momote strip so that our transports can land there. As soon as this is possible, we will fly up some airborne engineers to put the strip in shape for transport operations for the purpose of bringing in supplies or reinforcing troops in an emergency. This probably will not be necessary as the Navy seems willing to consider the Bismarck Sea our own private lake and Admiral Kinkaid is perfectly willing to send APD's or destroyers from Finschhafen to Manus [Los Negros] at any time after the Hyane Harbour is cleared out by the minesweepers.
Following the landing of this cavalry expedition a CB battalion has been ordered to get ready for movement into Momote about March 3d. They will take over construction of the strip in order for us to base two or three squadrons of fighters there.
Better get in touch with the RAAF and warn them that they may have to move in soon after that date.28
This sudden change in plan, with a target date no later than 29 February, gave little time for preparation. Fortunately, the Fifth Air Force already had started on scheduled pre-invasion operations, and for 29 February Whitehead was able to allot his entire bomber force to the Admiralties as needed. Fortunately, also, the planning by ALAMO Force was well along, with full participation by General Swift and his staff of the 1st Cavalry Division.
GHQ had recommended limiting the initial assault echelon to 800 men and had specified the units. Field Order 2 of the BREWER Task Force kept to the designated units, but the total force was slightly more than 1,000. It included the three rifle troops and the heavy weapons troop of the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry; a platoon from Battery B, 99th Field Artillery Battalion, carrying two 75-mm. pack howitzers and four .50-cal. machine guns; the 673d Antiaircraft Machine Gun Battery with twelve .50-cal. machine guns; a communications platoon and a reconnaissance platoon from Headquarters Troop, 1st Cavalry
Brigade; air and naval fire-control parties; the 30th Portable Surgical Hospital; and an Australia-New Guinea administrative detachment to handle native administration.29
The landing point was changed to a beach, designated White Beach, near the jetties in the lee of Jamandilai Point within Hyane Harbor on the eastern side of Los Negros Island. It was about 200 yards from White Beach to the edge of Momote airfield. Hyane Harbor was protected by gun emplacements on opposite points of land approximately one mile apart with excellent fields of fire on the 50-foot-wide passage through the barrier reef. The Japanese had apparently built their defense around these points and the revetments of Momote airdrome. For the Allies, aerial bombardment and naval shelling was expected to silence the gun positions. White Beach offered an 800-foot beach backed by trees and second-growth jungle thickets. Momote drome, 300 by 5,000 feet, was almost encircled with revetted dispersals. Once these were captured, the area could be held while an advance party crossed a 50-foot-long skidway to clear the Salami and Mokerang plantations on the northern tip of the island. These would provide staging points for the subsequent occupation of Manus. However, to protect the western flank the western tip of Papitalai Harbor would also have to be cleared of the enemy.30
The original naval plan had envisioned diversionary bombardments of southern New Britain, minesweeping, and hydrographic surveys of the harbors and approaches. These were discarded and the naval mission was changed to transporting the troops and supplies, protecting their overwater movement, and furnishing a heavy bombardment to cover the approach and initial debarkation. The general mission of the air forces varied little from the original plan, except that the job was crowded into a three-day bombardment reaching a climax just before the landing. Each of the 345th's four squadrons would be on air alert for successive hours over the invasion area. Three B-25's of the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron would stand by to smoke the landing area if called for. Fighters would supply convoy and beachhead cover. Three RAAF fighter squadrons with their service elements would stand ready to move into Momote at the earliest practicable date. The Fifth Air Force was also prepared to supply the invasion garrison by air dropping as required and to take out enemy fields on New Guinea in advance of the landing.31
ALAMO Force had planned under the original instructions to put a
ground reconnaissance party ashore on the western end of Manus Island. This was canceled and a small party of scouts was landed by a Catalina on the southeast coast of Los Negros. The party was set ashore on 27 February under cover of a bombing attack and picked up the next morning, again under cover of an air attack. The party succeeded in eluding the Japanese who had observed the landing; they found a large bivouac area and ample evidence of Japanese activity south of the Momote airstrip. They reported the area as "lousy with Japs." Naval fire support schedules were modified to cover the bivouac area. The landing of the scouts seems also to have diverted the attention of the Japanese from Hyane Harbor. Aerial sightings showed increased activities the day before the landing; though these reports caused some misgivings, the invading force was already under way and the naval forces were prepared to re-embark the troops should the situation become too difficult.32
Seven squadrons of B-25's and three of B-24's were scheduled to hit Lorengau and Momote on 26 February, but the weather turned bad. Early morning and evening B-24 reconnaissance missions got through, as did two squadrons of B-24's for a bombing attack, but the other planes either hit New Guinea fields or returned to base. On 27 February, four squadrons of Mitchells from the 38th Group were over Momote and Lorengau while the Catalina landed the scouts. Seven squadrons of Liberators hit Boram, Wewak, and Tadji; simultaneously, a squadron of mediums worked over the Hansa Bay airstrips. A reconnaissance B-24 and two P-38's bombed and strafed Papitalai as the Catalina returned on 28 February to take off the scouts. Shortly after noon, twenty-seven B-25's struck at Momote, Salami Plantation, and Lorengau, with six Liberators of the 65th Squadron following up at Momote. Three squadrons of B-24's and four of A-20's struck the Hansa Bay airfields, and on the night of 28/29 February seven B-24's hit Hollandia. Poor weather had prevented anything like "flattening" operations against the Admiralties, but diversion of the bombing effort to the New Guinea dromes served nevertheless to cut down potential Japanese aerial opposition to the landing.33
The assault elements began loading at Oro Bay on 27 February, the convoy getting under way at 0645 on the following day. The attack group was composed of three destroyer-transports with immediate escort provided by three other destroyers. A supporting group of six destroyers followed the attack group out at 0819. Off Cape Cretin,
the attack group was joined by the cruisers Nashville and Phoenix and four more destroyers; General MacArthur and Admiral Kinkaid were aboard the Phoenix. The ships arrived ten miles off Los Negros at 0600 on D-day without being challenged.34
H-hour had been set at 0815. The destroyers began their supporting fire at H minus 35, but heavy weather had virtually nullified all efforts to lay on a preliminary bombing by the air force. Seven planes out of three squadrons of the 43d Group's Liberators scheduled to attack had made their bomb runs at 13 minus 38. Four squadrons of mediums, the 38th Group, had been assigned to bomb and strafe after the B-24's cleared, but no more than two planes of the 823d Squadron and one of the 71st Squadron succeeded in reaching the Admiralties, and these had not been observed when at H minus 20 the naval shelling was scheduled to stop. Consequently, the shelling was continued to H minus 5, when the command ship signaled with star shells for the air attack. The three planes had circled Pak Island for thirty minutes and now bombed the gun positions on the two points flanking Hyane Harbor. As usual, they were fired on by the LCP(R)'s moving in with the assault troops.35 The 345th Group's B-25's having been scheduled for squadron alerts for each of the four hours extending from 0915, the 499th Squadron reached Pak Island only one minute behind schedule and circled until 0942, when the command ship ordered an attack on the area joining Papitalai Harbor on the Seeadler side of the island and Hyane Harbor on the eastern coast. As the planes turned back to base after two runs, the pilots saw twelve P-38's coming down through the overcast, heard the 12th Air Liaison Party's station broadcasting from the beach, and saw the 498th Squadron circling over Pak Island. By this time, heavy rain and clouds had lowered the ceiling to zero, with the result that neither the 498th nor the other two B-25 squadrons could be used. Planes of the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, sent up for smoke-laying, similarly went unused. The 475th Group sent out fifty-seven P-38's for fighter cover, losing four of these to bad weather on the return flights. The P-47's of the 348th Fighter Group found it impossible to get through the weather.36 The Fifth Air Force had made its chief contribution in pointing out the opportunity.
Under cover of naval bombardment and heavy rain, the entire reconnaissance force had been landed by H plus 4 hours 35 minutes.37 By 0950 the Momote airstrip had been occupied, and the patrols began to fan out. The evidence brought in by the patrols indicated a
considerable Japanese force in the area. The Japanese attacked strongly after dark, but apparently they mistook the outpost line for the main line and the attack was uncoordinated when it reached the perimeter. There were numerous infiltrations even to the command post; and by morning, after the infiltrators had been cleaned up, sixty-six Japanese dead were counted within the perimeter for an American loss of seven dead and fifteen wounded. Back at Cape Cretin, General Swift next day received orders to reinforce the reconnaissance force and to exploit aggressively the success of the initial landing by seizing Seeadler Harbor and by establishing light naval and airdrome facilities.38
But with these reinforcements not due to arrive until the morning of 2 March, the day and night of 1 March were a critical period. Fortunately, the weather turned good and the Fifth Air Force sent up substantial help in the way of supplies and air strikes. Three B-25's of the 38th Group dropped supplies at 0830; a B-17 of the 39th Troop Carrier Squadron, the Yankee Diddler, flew two supply missions, strafing on each pass. Four other B-17's of the 375th Troop Carrier Group each dropped three tons of such supplies as blood plasma, ammunition, mortar shells, barbed wire, antipersonnel mines, grenades, and other weapons.39 The four squadrons of the 38th Bombardment Group on successive air alerts over Pak or Lou Islands had been briefed for secondary targets if they were not called by the air liaison party. Targets attacked were Lombrum Point, Papitalai Mission, Lorengau, and the dispersal area west of the airstrip. Ground intelligence indicated that the Japanese were gathering forces in the Lorengau area for a counterattack, and the 43d Group loaded sixteen B-24's with 1,000-pounders which they dropped on the assembly area about noon. While the other medium squadrons of the 345th Group attacked Hansa Bay, the 499th Squadron flew the last mission of the day over the Admiralties to hit the dispersal area near Lorengau with excellent results. The destroyers, called on for assistance from time to time, performed excellently.40
During the afternoon of 1 March, a Japanese patrol was discovered within thirty-five yards of the command post. Through the night the enemy continued attempts at infiltration, but the perimeter was held with a total Japanese loss for the two days counted as 147 men. In preparation for the arrival of reinforcements, Jamandilai peninsula was cleared on the morning of 2 March. The remainder of the 5th Cavalry, the 99th Field Artillery Battalion, a machine-gun battery and a gun
battery of antiaircraft, and the 40th Naval Construction Battalion came in about 1000 on 2 March in LST's.41
Not all the air strikes went off smoothly on 2 March. Failures of communication or misunderstandings by elements of the various squadrons messed up the morning attack of twenty-three Mitchells from the 38th Group. Some planes did not hear the request by GANGWAY (the 12th Air Liaison Party) for an attack on the west side of Momote strips. Only about half of the planes, including the six from the 405th, hit the right target; others hit Lorengau. The afternoon mission by the 345th's Mitchells was jumped by the first Japanese interception effort, but eight P-47's drove off the attackers, claiming eight with four probables out of an estimated fifteen Japanese fighters. The mediums had been briefed to hit the west side of Momote after contacting GANGWAY. Capt. George F. Frederick at GANGWAY, however, changed the target to both sides of Porharmenemen Creek, southwest of Momote. The 498th and 501st Squadrons hit the proper target, but the 500th and 499th dropped part of their bombs east of the strips, across and into the northwest dispersal area--where the ground troops had already moved in. Two of our men had been killed and three wounded before GANGWAY could stop the bombing. A later strike by sixteen A-20's of the 13th and 90th Bombardment Squadrons was well executed along Porharmenemen Creek. Eight P-47's of the 340th Fighter Squadron strafed the coast northeast of Momote, and sixteen P-38's of the 433d Squadron attacked gun positions on Hyane Harbor to complete the day's strikes. The Yankee Diddler and two B-17's of the 69th Troop Carrier Squadron flew very satisfactory supply-dropping and strafing missions; the latter two B-17's met four interceptors and entered a claim for one of them. The combat pilots assigned to these supply missions found satisfaction in their low-level strafing passes, which not only helped the ground troops to recover the supplies dropped but also killed quite a few Japanese.42
Immediately after landing, the 40th Seabee Battalion began to build unloading ramps. Assigned a defense sector on the right of the beachhead, the Seabees helped prepare the perimeter defenses and emplace weapons for other sectors. The 1st Squadron was immediately moved up, and the two cavalry squadrons--the 1st and 2d of the 5th Cavalry--mounted an afternoon attack which occupied the airstrip and the dispersal area within an hour. The dispersal revetments offered excellent defensive positions around which the perimeter was organized.43
With an estimated 2,000 Japanese on Los Negros and 2,000 more on Manus, Brig. Gen. William C. Chase, who commanded the 1st Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, urgently requested Krueger, commander of ALAMO Force, to send in the rest of the 1st Brigade by 4 March instead of waiting, as originally planned, until 6 March. Krueger agreed, and also ordered General Swift to proceed immediately to Los Negros and requested Task Force 76 to speed up the movement of the 2d Brigade to that island. The enemy's night attack on 2 March was not heavy, except around the 2d Squadron's sector. Early in the morning a Japanese patrol was wiped out, and orders detailing the plan of a projected attack on the night of 3 March fell into Allied hands.44
On 3 March, the scheduled morning attack by the 43d Group's Liberators was diverted by weather to Alexishafen. In the afternoon, nine A-20's of the 13th Squadron and six B-25's of the 499th Squadron reached the Admiralties to bomb and strafe enemy troop areas north of Hyane Harbor. During the day only one enemy fighter came over, and it was driven off by destroyer fire. At 2100 another Japanese plane dropped eight bombs with no damage, but its attack coincided with the opening of a major Japanese ground attack. Supported by mortar fire, the enemy troops made no attempt at surprise. They talked and sang as they moved automatic weapons up and charged the American positions. Those in front were cut down by the fire of the protective line, but more kept coming. Some infiltrators stole through the Allied lines to cut communications or to give fake orders. One enemy column, about an hour before daylight, marched down the Porlaka road singing "Deep in the Heart of Texas." Many were killed by anti- personnel mines on the road, but others kept coming--to be cut down by small-arms fire. By dawn of 4 March it was clear that the enemy's best effort had been met and matched. During the day, over 750 enemy dead were counted against 61 Americans killed and 244 wounded.45 With new reinforcements coming in that day and others promised for the near future, it seemed reasonably certain that the gamble at Los Negros would pay off.
Sixteen A-20's and twelve Mitchells reached the Admiralties on 4 March to help the destroyers work over enemy gun positions on Hyane Harbor. General Whitehead had held heavies on alert for further assistance, but during this period of operations he had been unable to get information from ALAMO Force in time to brief the heavies, which, unlike the mediums, could not be put on the targets by the air liaison
party.46 At 1100 on 5 March, General Swift reached Los Negros to assume command. The 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry, which had landed on the 4th, attacked north and reached the skidway during the afternoon. The 12th Cavalry Regiment was landed on 6 March, and the attack continued toward Salami Plantation, where the beach area was captured on that same day. Elements of the 5th Cavalry had meanwhile occupied Porlaka. A combined attack by mediums and heavies had hit that area on 5 March. The first artillery-spotting planes began operating from Momote on 6 March; a B-25 made an emergency landing there on 7 March; and on 9 March, another B-25 escorted twelve RAAF P-40's of the 77 Fighter Squadron to Momote as the first garrison echelon. They were followed by twelve more P-40's on 10 March. This garrison gave the BREWER Task Force an integral fighter-bomber force less subject to the vagaries of the weather than were the New Guinea-based planes. Minesweepers, covered by destroyers, had cleared Seeadler Harbor by 9 March.47 The capture of Momote, Porlaka, Salami Plantation and beach, plus the overwater seizure of Papitalai Mission and Lombrum Plantation, ended effective resistance on Los Negros by 8 March.48 Already preparations were under way to exploit the initial victory by the occupation of Manus. Remaining Japanese elements on the southern part of Los Negros would be reduced by the end of March, although patrols encountered small groups of Japanese after that date.
The first requisite for the Manus landing was control of Seeadler Harbor, particularly the two islands of Butjo Luo and Hauwei Island. The minesweepers had attempted to sweep the harbor as early as 2 March, only to receive accurate fire from Hauwei Island. The destroyers bombarded the guns from 2 March and cruisers of Task Force 74 hit them on 4 and 5 March. Bad weather plagued a seventeen-plane attack on the islands on 7 March; only five planes hit the target, and they claimed but nine hits out of forty bombs. Better results were obtained on 8 March by seventeen B-24's and eleven B-25's hitting Hauwei, Ndrilo, Pityilu, Lorengau, and other points. One B-24 is credited with a direct hit on gun emplacements, killing seventy-five Japanese. On 11 March reconnaissance patrols were sent to occupy Hauwei and Butjo Luo Islands. Butjo Luo was occupied without resistance and the 99th Field Artillery Battalion placed there, but the patrol ran into heavy resistance on Hauwei and had to be picked up by PT boat after its LCT was sunk. Next day an attack was mounted
by the 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry, supported by artillery from the tip of Mokerang Peninsula. Captain Frederick of the 12th Air Liaison Party guided six RAAF P-40's in an air support strike. Enemy resistance on Hauwei having been overcome, artillery units were emplaced in preparation for the Manus landing.49
The pre-invasion attacks of the Fifth Air Force started on 10 March. By D-day, on 15 March, Lugos Mission, Lorengau airdrome, Lorengau town, and the trails leading to the town had been hit with 143 tons of bombs and 135,000 rounds of strafing ammunition by 26 B-24's and 35 B-25's. Even the heavies dropped down to treetop level and strafed on 11 March. The capable Captain Frederick worked out the air support plan for D-day with General Swift on 11 March. This plan called for the use of mediums and the RAAF P-40's, since opposition was not expected to be too severe.50 The two beaches selected were on either side of the Liei River near Lugos Mission. In contrast to Lorengau, this area had not been fortified. Eighteen Mitchells of the 499th and 500th Squadrons were over the beachhead at H minus 30 (0900) on the 15th and bombed and strafed the beach areas on both sides of the Liei River until 0925, when Troops A and C of the 8th Cavalry were on the point of debarking from the landing boats. Captain Frederick and his 12th Air Liaison Party were early ashore and were operating by 0950 in contact with the RAAF 77 Fighter Squadron and the 501st Squadron's B-25's on air alert. The RAAF P-40's were used in a coordinated artillery and air attack on enemy bunkers near the beach, while the B-25's of the 501st and of its successor on alert, the 498th Squadron, hit Tingo village ahead of the troops moving inland to No. 1 Road.51
The D-day strikes practically ended Fifth Air Force participation in the reduction of the Admiralties. Except for a coordinated air-ground assault on 26 March at Warembu, the remaining effort was supplied by the RAAF P-40's. By 18 March both the 76 and 77 RAAF Fighter Squadrons were at Momote with thirty-four P-40's. In the last week of March, 79 Fighter Squadron moved up with twenty-four Spitfires from Kiriwina. Even these were not called on very often because of the terrain and the nature of the Japanese defenses. The fighting area was characterized by low-lying hills with steep slopes and many gullies. Caves and holes under trees had been prepared for defense early enough for the jungle foliage to have grown over the openings, making discovery very difficult. The result was close-in fighting without sufficient distance between friend and foe for ground support bombing.52
The ground troops had won Lorengau airdrome and had pushed on to the Lorengau River by 17 March. They crossed the river and occupied the town on 18 March. The toughest part of the campaign developed in the drive toward Rossum which ended on 25 March. The campaign was not officially closed until 18 May. With an estimated 150 live Japanese still on the island, mopping up continued for some time. Among the other islands, Tong was seized on 25 March; Pityilu was captured on 30 March with the unfortunate loss of Captain Frederick to a sniper; Koruniat and Ndrilo were occupied without opposition on 1 April; and Rambutyo was attacked on 3 April with no resistance but mopping up took about three weeks. Since the Lorengau airfield failed to measure up to anticipated requirements, it had been decided to build a new strip at Mokerang on Los Negros.53 The strip was completed by 22 April, at which time the 5th Bombardment Group of the Thirteenth Air Force already had moved with its B-24's onto Momote.*
The March Directives
Though the fighting for possession of the Admiralties continued through several weeks, General MacArthur had been in position to give assurance to the Joint Chiefs of Staff as to the success of the operation as early as 4 March. This assurance carried the promise that the whole RENO III schedule could be stepped up, and General Sutherland, still in Washington, found his hand strengthened in the continuing debate over Pacific strategy.54
The movement into Los Negros, which took the JCS by surprise, had come just after General Marshall, pointing to the general agreement on the importance of the Formosa-China coast-Luzon triangle, had proposed that both MacArthur and Nimitz be directed to make plans for entering this area. After some discussion over questions of phrasing, such a directive was dispatched on 2 March.55 The JSSC paper of 16 Februaryþ was returned to the Joint Staff Planners for clarification, and General Sutherland was called upon to provide a revision of the RENO plan. While these studies proceeded, the JCS heard at first hand the views of Nimitz.
Nimitz and Sherman appeared before the Joint Chiefs on 7 March to report that the capture of Kwajalein, Majuro, and Eniwetok, together with the successful carrier raids on Truk and the Marianas, made
* See below, p. 586.
þ See above, pp. 553-54.
possible a general acceleration in GRANITE operations. Nimitz had already begun to prepare forces which could seize either Truk, the southern Marianas, or the Palaus on 15 June. Capture of Truk, although the place was obviously weaker than had been thought, would still be expensive. In Allied hands, it would furnish an excellent fleet base, but to safeguard it from attacks from the northeast, Central Pacific forces would still have to take the southern Marianas. Bases in the Palaus would also be needed to prevent the Japanese from moving aircraft either to or against Truk from the west, and for support of an attack against the Formosa-China coast-Luzon objective. Nimitz believed that, prior to a Central Pacific attack against the major strategic objective, it would be desirable to have SWPA forces on Mindanao, provided this did not involve delay in the Pacific campaign. The following timing seemed practicable: Truk, 15 June; southern Marianas, 1 September; Palaus, 15 November. If Truk were by-passed, Nimitz would proceed to the southern Marianas directly; but since none of these islands possessed a fleet base, it would be necessary to seize Ulithi Atoll, about 360 miles southwest of Guam. Uninterrupted use of Ulithi would demand capture of near-by Yap, the only island in the vicinity with enough land area to build airfields. By isolating Truk, this schedule was practicable: southern Marianas, 15 June; Woleai, a link in the Japanese air route from the Palaus to Truk, 15 July; Ulithi-Yap, 1 September; and the Palaus, 1 November. Either of the two schedules would place Central Pacific forces in a position to invade the major strategic area by early spring of 1945. In a memorandum written the next day, Nimitz amended his second schedule, deferring the capture of Ulithi-Yap until after the Palaus and moving the target date for the latter islands up to 1 October.56
On this same day, 8 March, Sutherland submitted to Marshall a copy of RENO IV. In a covering letter General Sutherland promised that "the line of action presented in RENO IV will sever sea communications between Japan and the vital Borneo-N.E.I.-Malaya region and will place our forces in the Luzon-Formosa-China Coast area at the earliest date possible under conditions that can be foreseen at this time." To MacArthur, by teletype conversation, he expressed the opinion that the stepped-up schedule for SWPA would make it very difficult to justify a heavy operation against the Marianas.57 The revised plan followed the already familiar scheme of maneuver, but it deleted most of the flank-protecting operations of earlier RENO plans. SWPA land-
based air power, plus Central Pacific operations on the east, would protect the flanks. Anticipating a transfer of naval and amphibious resources between SWPA and POA, the plan proposed four phases: (1) to seize bases in the Humboldt Bay and Geelvink Bay areas of New Guinea, 15 April; (2) seize air bases in the Arafura Sea, 15 July; (3) take areas or air bases on the western tip of the Vogelkop and in the Halmaheras required to support the invasion of Mindanao and ward off Japanese air attacks from the west, about 15 September (this being timed to coincide with seizure of the Palaus by Central Pacific forces); (4) invade Mindanao, 5 November. A northward movement into Luzon was indicated by Sutherland to be practicable during January 1945.58
As these proposals passed to the Joint Staff Planners for study, Sutherland knew some concern over the position that would be taken by AAF representatives. Since the early fall of 1943 the AAF had shown an active interest in the possible use of Marianas bases for B-29 operations against the Japanese homeland,59 and Sutherland reported to MacArthur on 9 March that Brig. Gen. Haywood S. Hansell, Jr., representing the AAF on the Joint Staff Planners, was supporting an early occupation of the Marianas.60
The Joint Staff Planners, with the concurrence of the Joint Logistics Committee, recommended on 10 March that the following operations seemed feasible:
Hollandia--15 April--by SWPA
Southern Marianas--15 June--by POA
Palaus--15 September--by POA
Mindanao--15 November--by SWPA
Formosa--15 February--by POA
The Kavieng operation would be canceled and it was assumed that Truk could be by-passed. The JPS conceded that if there were to be delay in the invasion of Formosa, it would be well for SWPA to move from Mindanao to Luzon. Such an operation was not essential, but it would aid the Formosa campaign. Since it would be unwise to attempt to capture Woleai far in advance of the Palaus, the JPS favored postponement of this operation, or possibly leaving the island to be neutralized by air. Air bases on Mindanao were considered necessary for neutralization of Japanese air strength on Luzon prior to the invasion of Formosa.61 The Joint Chiefs discussed the problem at a meeting on 11 March. Nimitz and Sherman, who with Sutherland were present,
indicated general approval, although they desired to reserve the decision on Woleai. Sherman pointed out that the Japanese might move heavy forces into the Marianas, thus rendering it necessary to capture Truk, a remark which indicated to Leahy that it would be well to take the southern Marianas as quickly as possible. Sutherland was more critical. He questioned especially the possibility of a movement from the Palaus-Guam line against Formosa. He also objected that the planners had specified no operations for SWPA between Hollandia and Mindanao, but he was reassured that there had been no intention to cut off SWPA at the former place. King, in a concluding comment, remarked that both SWPA and POA had emphasized the need to take the Palaus; and as for the Marianas and Carolines, they would have to be cleared out sooner or later, and it might as well be done quickly.62
Following an interchange of memoranda between Marshall and King, the JCS in a closed session on 12 March approved a directive to MacArthur and Nimitz. SWPA was directed to complete the isolation of Rabaul and Kavieng (Kavieng would not be occupied) with a minimum of forces; launch an attack on Hollandia on 15 April in order to establish heavy bombardment groups there for aid in its New Guinea campaign and to assist in neutralization of the Palaus; conduct operations along the New Guinea coast and such other operations as were feasible in preparation for support of the invasions of Palaus and Mindanao; and to invade Mindanao on 15 November 1944. Truk would be neutralized and by-passed, with the forces under Admiral Nimitz going into the southern Marianas on 15 June and into Palaus on 15 September. Nimitz and MacArthur would coordinate their planning, including plans for the occupation of Formosa by CINCPOA and Luzon by CINCSWPA--with a target date of 15 February 1945.63
This definition of strategy permitted an orderly disposition of SOPAC troops, among them the Thirteenth Air Force. Discussion of the redeployment of the latter unit had actually been in progress since December 1943, when Lt. Gen. Millard F. Harmon had indicated his desire to maintain the Thirteenth as an integrated combat unit. He had pointed out that "its dissolution would destroy something that would be extremely difficult and would take a long time to recreate."64 While in Washington in January 1944, Kenney had put in a strong bid for the entire air force and had promised to maintain its fighting units intact, while pooling the service elements of the Fifth and Thirteenth Air Forces to effect a centralized logistical command.
Arnold had also interviewed Sherman regarding possible employment of the Thirteenth in the Central Pacific, but he had been dissatisfied with plans which, it seemed to him, would move the air force to the Admiralties for attacks against Truk and use shorter-range units as a reservoir of replacements for Seventh Air Force units. This would involve placing POA units on MacArthur's bases, and Arnold considered such a pooling wasteful employment of air power. He accordingly favored the transfer of the Thirteenth Air Force to SWPA, with provision for use of its long-range bombers to support POA.65
Formal directions for the liquidation of South Pacific forces materialized on 25 March when the JCS approved a paper written by the Joint Staff Planners a week earlier.66 Of the principal units of SOPAC, SWPA was given the XIV Corps headquarters and corps troops and the 25th, 37th, 40th, 43d, 93d, and Americal Divisions. POA received the I Marine Amphibious Corps and corps troops and the First and Third Marine Divisions. SWPA's Seventh Fleet was augmented to a total U.S. strength of 3 cruisers, 27 destroyers, 30 submarines, 18 DE's (PF), 1 AGC, 1 APA, 1 AKA, 5 APD's, 60 LCI's, 40 LST's, plus miscellaneous auxiliary and small craft. SWPA also received the entire Thirteenth Air Force, with instructions that it would be used to support Nimitz as requested. Other Navy and Marine air units, and Royal New Zealand Air Force units, would be disposed of in negotiations between Nimitz and MacArthur; some would form a garrison for the Solomons, a minimum air garrison would be retained in a new and smaller SOPAC area, and some of the units would be used by Nimitz in the Central Pacific. A small garrison of four U.S. infantry regiments, Fijian troops, and the 3 New Zealand Division (pending its clearance for forward employment) would remain in the South Pacific. SWPA thus increased its U.S. infantry divisions from six to twelve, gained outright the six and one-fourth air groups of the Thirteenth Air Force, and would receive additional Navy and Marine air units. POA would now control four Marine divisions and six infantry divisions.
Table of Contents
Previous Chapter (16) * Next Chapter (18)